Man of Honor: John Jay Student Stands Up for His Fellow Veterans
Members of the military pride themselves on not leaving a wounded comrade on the battlefield. For former marine Christopher Neff, who just completed his bachelor’s degree at John Jay, that credo still applies to life beyond the service.
Neff, who finished his degree in International Criminal Justice in December 2012, has been spending his days at the Mid-Manhattan Library working for the Single Stop Veterans Initiative, a counseling program run in conjunction with the nonprofit group The Mission Continues and funded by the Robin Hood Foundation.
A veteran of two tours of duty in Iraq who hopes to enter federal law enforcement, Neff left the Marine Corps in 2005 and found his way to John Jay. In fall 2012, Neff was one of 15 John Jay students who participated in a pilot Edge4Vets program at the College. The program, initiated at Fordham University and expected to be officially launched at John Jay this spring, comprises a series of workshops aimed at helping veterans transfer their military experience into useful skills that they can apply in the civilian workplace.
For his fellowship with Single Stop, Neff screens and enrolls veterans and their families into government programs that can provide much-needed assistance, and advises veterans about service-related benefits, including education, medical, housing and employment. Equally important, Neff talks with veterans about their service and exchanges war stories, so “they might feel more at ease and remember the feeling of camaraderie in the military.”
“The most gratifying thing about my fellowship is when someone comes into my office hopeless or dejected, and then they get that look in their eye when I say there is a program or benefit that they didn't know about and suddenly they can go to school or have somewhere to live or even have something to eat that night,” said Neff.
Tom Murphy, Director of the Human Resiliency Institute at Fordham and the Edge4Vets program, had high praise for Neff’s contributions, noting, “We're delighted that Chris Neff is doing such outstanding work for Mission Continues and Single Stop.”
Neff’s work with the Single Stop initiative was featured in a December 3 article in The New York Times.
Then, Now and Always, Students Matter to Jim and Rubie Malone
Through all of the many positions Drs. James and Rubie Malone have held in their long careers at John Jay – as faculty members, counselors, deans and College executives –students have always occupied a special place in their hearts. The Malones recently affirmed that affection with a $100,000 commitment to endow a scholarship fund for students in financial need. In recognition, the College on December 11 dedicated the Drs. Rubie and James Malone Student Government Conference Room in the new building.
The conference room will serve as a launching pad for future leaders, hosting Student Council meetings, workshops and other gatherings.
A throng of family, friends and colleagues from their long service to the College and CUNY packed the conference room for the dedication, at which President Jeremy Travis praised the Malones as “pillars upon whom an institution is built.
“Their guiding star has always been what’s right for the students,” President Travis said. “We value your contributions, and we will always be in your debt.”
Jim, as he is known schoolwide, has been a member of the John Jay community since 1970, and his long service includes 11 years as Dean of Students. In that role, he helped create the student government charter that is still in force today. Rubie, his wife of 49 years, joined John Jay in 1978, and like her husband began in the Search for Education, Elevation and Knowledge (SEEK) program. Her John Jay career has similarly been marked by extensive involvement in student activities, as faculty advisor, counselor and mentor.
Both are trained as teachers and social workers, although the recognition of their talents ultimately lifted them to other assignments, Jim as the College’s first Vice President for Administrative Affairs, and Rubie as Assistant Vice President for Strategic Planning and Outcomes Assessment.
The evening included greetings from Phillip Berry, Vice Chairman of the CUNY Board of Trustees, who noted that the scholarship endowment “will help students realize their potential and their dreams.” Senior Vice Chancellor for University Relations Jay Hershenson recalled that he first met the Malones when he was a rising star in CUNY student government. He said the dedication event was “a celebration of excellence in leadership.”
On behalf of the many current student government members in attendance, Student Council President Mehak Kapoor said she and her fellow student leaders were thrilled to dedicate their spacious conference room to the Malones. “No matter how many times we say ‘thank you,’ it will not be enough,” said Kapoor.
The Malones’ gift to an institution that Jim Malone termed “a college I love” is intended to inspire and support student leaders. “By becoming leaders, you thereby fulfill the American dream,” he said. “Endowing the scholarship fund was something we wanted to do for the students,” Rubie Malone added. “I’ve always cared for the students, and I’ve always cared for the institution and what it can become.”
New State-of-the Art Science Wing Puts John Jay in the Vanguard of Science Education and Research
John Jay College officially opened its new science wing on Friday, November 30, amid a cascade of blue and white confetti and to cheers from an overflow crowd that included College administrators and faculty, elected officials, students, alumni and City University Chancellor Matthew Goldstein.
“This beautiful state-of-the-art facility is a manifestation of the seriousness with which John Jay College takes scientific research and science education,” said Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Jane Bowers, who presided over the ribbon-cutting ceremony. “This College has steadily and heavily invested in science facilities and faculty since 2005, we have made the engagement of undergraduates in research the cornerstone of John Jay College.”
Chancellor Goldstein is a forceful advocate of education in the science, technical, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines, who has proclaimed 2005 to 2015 as CUNY’s “Decade of Science.”
“The lack of scientific literacy and the encouragement and recruitment of young people into science and engineering and computational science is a national security problem,” he told the gathering. Addressing the many high school students in attendance, the Chancellor said, “When I look into the eyes of these young people, who are interested in science in high schools, I want to encourage you to come to this great institution, John Jay College, with a fabulous and extraordinary faculty and a dedicated administrative staff, who are going to provide you with the opportunity to be challenged and to be guided in ways that will transform your lives.”
Among those who spoke at the event, held on the third floor of the College’s new building, were New York City Council members gale Brewer and Elizabeth Crowley, New York State Assembly member Linda Rosenthal, interim Associate Provost for Research Anthony Carpi, forensic science alumna Rosalyn Cordero and Professor Lawrence Kobilinsky, chair of the Department of Sciences.
Professor Kobilinsky noted with pride that there are now 860 students enrolled in the four years of the Forensic Science program. The program and the gleaming new facility, he said, represent “a gem in the crown of the University.”
Prior to the ribbon-cutting, students and staff provided tours of the new facilities, which include, forensic toxicology lab, crime-scene investigation lab, a bullet-recovery tank for ballistics research and a high-security vault made of five inches of steel for storing chemicals.
Sited on three floors of the new building, the Department of Sciences now comprises more than 36,000 square feet of spacious, well-lit, state-of-art teaching and research labs outfitted with the latest in scientific equipment, allowing faculty and students to conduct cutting-edge research in highly specialized areas of science.
New course offerings include an advanced Physical Chemistry Laboratory course, a Forensic Anthropology course and, for non-majors, even a general education course called the Chemistry of Cooking.
“Nothing contributes as much too post-baccalaureate success as undergraduate research and internship experiences,” said Provost Bowers “and our science programs provide both. These hands-on experiences develop our students’ competence, confidence and character.”
More Industry Honors for New Building
John Jay’s architecturally innovative and visionary 625,000-square-foot new building continues to reap industry honors, with the announcement on December 11 of its selection as a 2012 recipient of Architecture Magazine’s Annual Design Review awards.
The building was cited by the publication as “distinctive…but also one that responds to its context.” Of particular appeal to the publication was the 13-story tower’s glass façade and elegant painted aluminum fins, which when viewed from east appear as a deep red pattern to correspond with the adjacent red brick Haaren Hall. Seen from the west, the fins are coated with a silver-speckled mica-flake paint to accentuate the glass exterior.
The new building previously won a Best Projects award from ENR New York magazine – a trade publication covering design and construction in the New York metropolitan area. The Award of Merit Higher Education/Research was presented to the architectural firm of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and Turner Construction for their exemplary work on the new building.
The Best Projects awards recognize innovation and creativity and salute projects that elevate industry standards. The new building has also received a Award of Merit from the 2012 American Institute of Architects New York State Design Awards Jury, and the Best Education Project in 2012 Award from the Greater New York Construction User Council.
Opened in November 2011, the building more than doubled the size of the College’s facilities and integrated all College functions in one city block. Among its signature spaces are a football-field-sized outdoor plaza, a new science wing with over 36,000 square feet of high-tech laboratories, an emergency management simulator that can serve as a real-time emergency operations center, a black box theater and a 4,050-square-foot exhibition gallery.
John Jay College’s First Year Composition Program Selected as National Model of Excellence
The John Jay College Writing Program has been awarded a certificate of excellence by the Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC), the most influential national organization in the field of composition and rhetoric. CCCC recognized the college’s first-year composition program for its consistent delivery of excellent, high quality education in writing, rhetoric and composition, particularly because it “models diversity and/or serves diverse communities” and because the program implements the theory driven literacy practices in the field.
With this award, the John Jay College Writing Program is now ranked among elite writing programs such as those at University of South Florida, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and University of Tennessee, programs that have received the CCCC excellence award in previous years.
“This is spectacular news,” President Jeremy Travis said. “We should all be proud to be associated with the faculty -- Mark McBeth and Tim McCormack -- who have created this exemplary program, the academic leaders -- Jane Bowers and Anne Lopes -- who have nurtured it and the faculty of the English Department, led by Allison Pease, who years ago envisioned the day when John Jay would be nationally recognized for its high quality composition programs.”
Seven years ago, Associate Professor Mark McBeth designed and implemented the now nationally touted, award-winning program for freshmen students that consists of the ENGW 100, ENG 101 and ENG 201 courses. The current program director, Assistant Professor Tim McCormack has sustained the ongoing development as well as a full assessment of the program during the last three years.
“Mark McBeth’s curricular design is innovative and imaginative…and Tim McCormack has worked hard to mentor and train part-time and full-time faculty so that we provide a consistent learning experience,” said Professor Allison Pease, chair of the English Department. The English department offers close to 200 sections of writing each academic year, serving close to 2,000 students per semester.
In the CCCC letter announcing the award, Malea Powell, the CCCC chair wrote, “The Officers and members of CCCC are delighted at the quality of programs that have earned the Excellence designation, and we are optimistic about the direction this program can provide to the field.” The committee cited the program for imaginatively addressing the needs and opportunities of its students, instructors, institution, and locale, and for its exemplary work with ongoing professional development for faculty of all ranks, including adjunct/contingent faculty.
According to McCormack, the Curriculum design works because of its overlapping structure that enables students to repeat processes and practices as they move up from one course to another.
“We won the award because of the heavy emphasis on rhetoric and writing across the curriculum which prepares students to move beyond standard essay writing,” he said. The writing program stresses a portfolio driven curriculum that has students develop drafts and final versions of their work, and teaches them to reflect on their writing processes and learning.
McBeth explains that this complex combination of skill sets requires a comprehensive pedagogical approach that is continually reassessed.
“In designing and constantly reviewing the types of writing curriculum we offer students in our program, we want to ensure that every student no matter in what section they enroll will receive a reasonably equitable college writing experience--thus, creating an equal opportunity writing program,” McBeth said.
“This is truly a College award and an English Department award,” McCormack said. “Everyone contributed to this, especially the creative and innovative faculty in our writing classes, the Writing Center that offers curriculum and tutoring support, and the First-Year Experience office that has helped us with the Learning Communities and other literacy-based programs.
McCormack concluded, “John Jay is a great place to have good ideas because they are encouraged and enabled by the administration.”
President Travis’s Book Cited by Malcolm Gladwell
In My Ideal Bookshelf, best-selling Canadian author Malcolm Gladwell identifies President Travis’s book, But They All Come Back: Facing the Challenges of Prisoner Reentry, among the books about crime that are “markers for the ideas” in which he is interested. My Ideal Bookshelf features the reading interests of leading cultural figures.
Gladwell, a columnist for The New Yorker and author of The Tipping Point, among other critically acclaimed books, says he has started exploring books about crime because he is writing a new book about power. Specifically, in discussing his picks for My Ideal Bookshelf, Gladwell told Canada’s Globe and Mail newspaper that he is “very interested in strategies we use to keep people who are powerless in check. And the ways in which the powerless fight back. So I started reading about crime.”
President Travis’s book, which was published in 2005, analyzes at the impact of mass incarceration and prisoner reentry in seven key areas: public safety, families and children, work, housing, public health, civic identity, and community capacity. In his book, President Travis, who was a senior fellow with the Urban Institute’s Justice Policy Center and the Director of the National Institute of Justice, also recommends policy changes to spur innovation and reform.
John Jay Student Seeks Adventure and Challenge in Paris
Elissa Gomez, a Political Science major and History minor, has exchanged the tree-lined sidewalks and brick townhouses of Forest Hills for the gabled windows and street cafes of Paris.
Gomez will spend the spring 2013 studying Western European history, with a focus on the Pax Britannica period from 1815-1914, while continuing to develop her French language skills at l'Université Paris 8 – Vincennes-Saint Denis. Already a fluent French speaker and writer, Gomez said full immersion into the language and culture was her greatest motivation for studying abroad in France.
The elder daughter of a computer programmer and an elementary school assistant principal, with family roots in Cuba, Colombia and the Dominican Republic, Gomez said the educational value of travel and intercultural exploration were instilled in her from the start. "My entire life, the importance of education has been emphasized," she said. "I am a third-generation college student. I have traveled since I was young and have always loved to study different cultures and peoples."
Gomez decided to attend John Jay College with the encouragement of her mother, who is an ardent supporter of the New York City public school system. "I felt that John Jay was the most appropriate college to attend for my interests, which are political science and law," said Gomez. After graduating, she hopes to pursue a master's degree in political science at Columbia University.
In addition to language and European history, Gomez is eager to learn more about the Enlightenment Period and her favorite philosopher, Voltaire, because she admires his passion for freedom of speech, religion and trade. As important, she sees the semester abroad as enhancing her growth as an individual. "I have never traveled or lived apart from my family, so I believe this is an opportunity to learn how to be less dependent and gain maturity," she said.
John Jay College Welcomes International Students
John Jay College’s international students received a warm welcome from President Jeremy Travis in an inaugural reception held in his office on Monday, December 10. The reception was attended by 40 international students who hailed from 26 different countries as well as members of the faculty and administration. John Jay currently has 163 international students from 47 different countries. President Travis spoke with the students about their majors and career interests, and he listened to their stories of how they discovered John Jay before he addressed the students.
“I have a particular vision for John Jay as an international institution and talking to many of you tonight about how you found your way to John Jay was very gratifying--to see you’re on a personal journey, a personal quest. What is particularly gratifying…is that you have found that this institution is meeting your hopes and your dreams and that the things you want to study are available here,” Travis said.
Subsequent to introducing faculty and administrators, President Travis asked the students to state their names, their home countries, their areas of study, and he asked them to identify the most significant, impactful aspects of John Jay.
James Williams from Nigeria, a public administration major, said that the “most fascinating thing about John Jay is the fact that there are so many resources here to help you succeed and no reason to fail. You have the Writing Center that helps you write papers, you have the Math and Science Resource Center, and you have advisors who will help you figure out what to do with your life.”
Graduate student, Ingrid Metton, from France is studying International Criminal Justice because she can study topics such as Forensic Psychology which are not available in her country. She is also impressed by John Jay’s knowledgeable and exceptional faculty, “who really know what they are talking about,” said Metton.
Ronan Maguire is a police officer in Ireland, and he is pursuing a Master’s in Criminal Justice, “I’m the envy of the Irish police, they’d all love to be over here as well. The professors and staff are particularly excellent and it’s such a very nice city to have a university in.”
Faculty members from the History Department to Criminal Justice attended the reception to show their support and enthusiasm for John Jay’s international student-community. Associate Professor Itai Sneh in the Department of History and Center on Terrorism said, “They are very hard workers, very dedicated. They’re shocked at how different the system is here. And they’re eager to learn-- they approach everything with a compare-contrast attitude.”
“They’re exceptional,” said Associate Professor Jeff Mellow in Criminal Justice when he talked about the international students who are in his classes.
International students have been contributing to the rich, diverse community at John Jay since 1970. The students are consistently active and interested in participating in the ongoing dialogue within the U.S. on international issues. From November 7– 10, 2012 four of John Jay’s international students attended the One to World Conference held at West Point Military Academy which included a dynamic panel discussion on U.S. foreign policy with Africa.